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Important Current Affairs 12th February 2021

NATIONAL

Manasa Varanasi crowned VLCC Femina Miss India World 2020

• Telangana-based Manasa Varanasi has been crowned as the winner of VLCC Femina Miss India World 2020. Manasa Varanasi was crowned by the winner of Miss India 2019, Suman Ratan Singh Rao from Rajasthan.

• The 23-year-old will now represent India at the 70th Miss World pageant in December 2021. Born in Hyderabad, Manasa Varanasi is an engineer by profession and works as a financial information exchange analyst.

PM Modi inaugurates World Sustainable Development Summit 2021

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the World Sustainable Development Summit 2021 through video conferencing. The theme of the Summit is ‘Redefining our common future: Safe and secure environment for all’. 2021 WSD Summit is the 20th edition of the flagship event organised by ‘The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)’.

• The Summit will bring together a wide number of governments, business leaders, academicians, climate scientists, youth, and the civil society in the fight against climate change. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Ministry of Earth Sciences are key partners of the Summit.

Vijayanagara officially declared as 31st District of Karnataka

• The Karnataka government issued an official gazette notification to declare Vijayanagara as the 31st district of the state. The new district has been carved out of Ballari and named after the Vijayanagara empire that ruled from this region.

• The Vijayanagara district will have six taluks and its headquarter will be at Hosapete. The other taluks in the new district are Kudligi, Hagaribommana Halli, Kotturu, Hoovina Hadagali, and Harapanahalli. The iconic cluster of monuments at Hampi or Hampe, a UNESCO world heritage site, will be part of the Vijaynagara.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

UAE Hope Probe successfully enters Mars’ orbit

• The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has put a probe called Hope in the orbit around the MARS. UAE has become the fifth country to launch the spacecraft into the orbit of MARS after United States, Soviet Union, Europe and India. With the successful launch of spacecraft in orbit, UAE scientists can now study the planet’s atmosphere.

• The space mission will carry the study on daily and seasonal weather cycles and weather events such as dust storm in the lower atmosphere. It will study how the weather varies in different regions on the MARS.

• The spacecraft had left the Earth seven months ago.

• The spacecraft carries three instruments with it to observe how neutral atoms of Oxygen and Hydrogen leak into space. The hydrogen and oxygen came into the MARS’ atmosphere are the remnants from Mars’ once abundant water.

• The Hope spacecraft will bring the spectacular, high-resolution, full-disk images of MARS.

• The spacecraft also seeks to study why the planet is losing the hydrogen and oxygen into space.

IMPORTANT DAYS

International Epilepsy Day 2021

• The International Epilepsy Day is observed on the second Monday of February every year across the world. In 2021, the International Epilepsy Day was observed on February 08.

• The day is organised jointly by the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) and the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) to raise awareness about epilepsy and highlight the kinds of problems faced by victims, their friends and family. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder which makes a person go through sudden and recurrent episodes of sensory disturbances.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Koozhangal” Wins Tiger Award at Rotterdam International Film Festival 2021

• The Tamil film “Koozhangal” has won “Tiger” award, at the 50th edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2021. The Tiger award is the top honour of the festival, given for best film. Koozhangal (meaning Pebbles) has been Produced by Nayanthara and directed by Vinod Raj PS.

• This is the second Indian film to win this international award and the first Tamil Film. The first Indian film was “Durga” directed by the Malayalam director Shashidharan. The Tiger Award worth Euro 40,000 cash prize, is shared between the director and producer of the winning film.

Bengaluru Airport Bags ACI World’s ‘Voice Of The Customer’ Award

• The International Epilepsy Day is observed on the second Monday of February every year across the world. In 2021, the International Epilepsy Day was observed on February 08.

• The day is organised jointly by the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) and the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) to raise awareness about epilepsy and highlight the kinds of problems faced by victims, their friends and family. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder which makes a person go through sudden and recurrent episodes of sensory disturbances.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

New Development Bank Commits $100 million in NIIF Fund of Funds

• The New Development Bank (NDB) has committed to invest USD 100 million (Rs 727.6 crore), into the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund Limited (NIIF) Fund of Funds (FoF). With NDB’s investment, the total commitments secured by the FoF has reached $800 million (about Rs 5,820 crore). This investment marks NDB’s first equity investment into India and its first-ever investment into a Fund of Funds.

• Currently, the Government of India (GoI), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) are the investor in the FoF. Now NDB has joined the group. The FoF was established in 2018 with the objective of providing homegrown Indian private equity fund managers access to an India-focused institutional investor that operates at scale.

• The Investments will hugely benefit the Indian economy which is facing difficulties due to pandemic.

• It will also support India’s efforts to boost investment in infrastructure.

• NDB’s support will further address issues like investment gaps, availability of institutional funding for domestic private equity funds.

PhonePe partners with Axis Bank on UPI multi-bank model

• Digital payments platform, PhonePe has announced that it has partnered with Axis Bank on a Unified Payments Interface (UPI) multi-bank model. The partnership will provide PhonePe users with the option to create and use multiple UPI IDs with Axis Bank’s “@axl” handle.

• This collaboration with PhonePe strengthens our commitment towards digitisation of the Indian payment ecosystem. It will help expand our reach to customers and the merchant community while offering secure and seamless payment experiences.

• PhonePe had emerged as the top UPI app in January, processing 968.72 million transactions worth ₹1.92 trillion, according to data by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). PhonePe will also start acquiring merchants with Axis Bank in addition to its partnership with YES Bank. It will help expand our reach to customers and the merchant community while offering secure and seamless payment experiences.

RBI to conduct bond purchases for Rs 20,000 crore

• Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced that it will purchase four government securities (G-Secs) that amount to ₹20,000 crores. The central bank will purchase it on February 10, 2021, under the open market operations (OMOs). This move was announced in aftermath of the yields that were moving up to touch the intra-day high of 6.1634 per cent recently. The RBI was concerned about the higher government borrowing.

• After the announcement of the OMO purchase was made, the yield on the benchmark 10-year G-Sec slowed down by 3-4 basis points. It now carries a coupon rate of 5.77 per cent as opposed to its previous closing yield of 6.1283 per cent.

• Open Market Operations are the purchase and sale of the Government securities (G-Secs) by RBI from and to the market. The Open Market Operations are conducted with the objective of adjusting the rupee liquidity conditions in the economy. In such operations, when RBI sells the government security in the market banks use to purchase them. When the banks purchase the Government securities, their ability to lend money to the industries, households and other commercial sector gets reduced. Following the reduced surplus cash, the liquidity of the rupee also contracts. This results in contraction of the credit creation or the credit supply. On the other hand, when the RBI purchases the securities, commercial banks find gets surplus cash and this in turn creates more credit in the system.

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Important Current Affairs 5th February 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Reliance sources world’s first ‘carbon-neutral’ oil from United States

• Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries Ltd has received the world’s first consignment of ‘carbon-neutral oil’ from Oxy Low Carbon Ventures (OLCV), a division of United State oil major Occidental. This feat will further help the oil major to accomplish its target of becoming a net zero-carbon company by 2035.

• The Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) Sea Pearl containing the carbon-neutral oil from Permian basin, unloaded the cargo at Jamnagar on January 28, 2021. It must be noted that Reliance operates the world’s largest single-location oil refining complex at Jamnagar in Gujarat with a capacity of 68.2 million tonnes a year.

• This transaction is the first major petroleum shipment of Reliance, for which greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the entire crude lifecycle, including oil extraction, transport, storage, shipping, refining, subsequent use, and combustion, have been offset.

Andy Jassy set to replace Jeff Bezos as Amazon CEO

• Amazon.com Inc founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos has announced that he would step down as CEO of the company and become Executive Chairman in Q3 of 2021, i.e. with effect from July 01, 2021.

• Andy Jassy, who is currently serving as the chief executive of Amazon Web Services (AWS), will replace Bezos as CEO of Amazon. Bezos started the company 27 years ago, on 5 July 1994, as an internet bookseller.

NATIONAL

Ayesha Aziz becomes India’s Youngest Female Pilot at 25

• A 25-year-old Kashmiri woman, Ayesha Aziz, has become the youngest female pilot in the country. She became the youngest student pilot to get a license at the age of 15 in 2011. The 25 -year-old from Kashmir who is the youngest female pilot in the country acts is a source of inspiration and a beacon of empowerment for numerous Kashmiri women.

• In the year 2011, Aziz became the youngest student pilot to get a license at the age of 15 and underwent training to fly a MIG-29 jet at Russia’s Sokol airbase the following year. She later graduated in aviation from the Bombay Flying Club (BFC) and obtained a commercial license in 2017.

GoI launches unified web portal for monitoring progress of GOBARDHAN activities

• Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Animal Husbandry Minister Giriraj Singh, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Minister of State for Jal Shakti Rattan Lal Kataria jointly launched a unified web portal for monitoring the progress of GOBARDHAN activities across the nation.

• Gobardhan aims to positively impact village cleanliness and generate wealth and energy from cattle and organic waste.

• It focuses on managing and converting cattle dung and solid waste in farms to useful compost, biogas and bio-CNG.

• It will also help in keeping the village clean while increasing the income of farmers and cattle herders.

• It will be hugely beneficial for the country as India is home to the highest cattle population in the world (around 300 million in number) which produces around 3 million tonnes of dung.

• It will encourage farmers to consider dung and other waste not just as waste but as a source of income.

• It will provide many benefits to rural people by keeping villages clean and sanitized, improving livestock health and increasing farm yields.

Punjab CM launches ‘Har Ghar Pani, Har Ghar Safai’ mission

• Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has virtually launched the ‘Har Ghar Pani, Har Ghar Safai’ mission as part of the government’s campaign to accomplish the goal of 100 per cent potable piped water supply in all rural households. The scheme is being funded by the World Bank, Jal Jeevan Mission of GoI, NABARD, and State Budget.

• The scheme will benefit more than 1.6 lakh residents from 155 villages in Amritsar, Tarn Taran, and Gurdaspur districts by helping replace groundwater with surface water supply for drinking, besides resolving the problem of arsenic affected habitations.

• The Chief Minister also inaugurated one Mega Surface Water Supply Scheme covering 85 villages in the Moga district, 144 new water supply schemes for 172 villages, 121 Arsenic, and Iron removal plants.

Aero India 2021 Begins in Bengaluru

• The Aero India 2021 event, country’s premier aerospace and defence exhibition, kick-started at Air Force Station Yelahanka in Bengaluru. The 13th edition of the international event touted as the world’s first-ever hybrid aero and defence show will see several aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Army, Navy, Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), and the Coast Guard participating in the show.

• The three-day event will focus on India’s indigenous defence sector capabilities amid buzz around Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India campaigns.

• This 13th edition will see a combination of both physical and virtual exhibition with 601 exhibitors, including 523 from India and 78 from 14 foreign countries.

• Hindustan Aeronautics Limited would exhibit its Aatmanirbhar Formation Flight.

India’s First Amputee Clinic Launched In Chandigarh

• The first of its kind ‘amputee clinic’ in India, has been launched by the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), a premier medical and research institution in Chandigarh. The basic intent of this initiative is to bring an Amputee as a near-normal functional human being in society. This initiative will attempt to provide appropriate management to amputees to guide them in their path to rehabilitation in society and will support patients with counselling and medical facilities during their treatment and recovery.

• ‘PGI Amputee Clinic’ in Chandigarh has been set up with the aim of improving amputation patient care by providing a collection of services under one roof with significant coordination. The clinic will provide social, mental and physical support to its patients.

Chiefs of Air Staff (CAS) Conclave Organised at Bengaluru

• Raksha Mantri, Rajnath Singh has inaugurated the ‘Chiefs of Air Staff (CAS) Conclave’ at Air Force Station Yelahanka in Bengaluru, Karnataka. The two-day conclave has been organised by Indian Air Force, from 3 to 04 February 2021, in a Hybrid Form with extensive use of digital media.

• The Chiefs of Air Staff from about 75 countries would come together on a single platform to exchange their thoughts on current issues related to aerospace power strategy and technological developments.

• The Conclave is a perfect example of India’s Defence Cooperation with other countries working as a diplomatic instrument, giving an opportunity for building bridges of friendship, mutual trust and capacities on a global basis. Promoting transparency in defence cooperation and building areas of common interests in military aviation will be focus areas of the CAS Conclave.

SPORTS

Ashok Dinda announces retirement from all forms of cricket

• Fast bowler Ashok Dinda, has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. The 36-year-old right-handed pacer made his first-class debut for Bengal in 2005 and played for 15 years in Bengal cricket.

• He made his international debut in 2009, in a T20I against Sri Lanka, followed by making his ODI debut in Zimbabwe in 2010. He played 13 ODIs and 9 T20I matches for India. He played 116 first-class matches for Bengal, taking 420 wickets at a bowling average of 28.28.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Centre Appoints Praveen Sinha as interim Director of CBI

• Department of Personnel and Training, under Personnel Ministry, has appointed Praveen Sinha, as the interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), with immediate effect on 03 February 2021. He has been appointed in place of the incumbent chief RK Shukla, whose tenure came to an end on February 03, 2021.

• Sinha, a 1988-batch Gujarat cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, is currently an additional director at CBI, the premier investigating agency of India. Sinha shall look after the duties of Director CBI till the appointment of new director CBI, or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

PHDCCI Report: India to emerge as second most resilient economy in 2021

• India will emerge as the second most resilient economy in 2021, as per the International Economic Resilience (IER) Rank, released by industry body, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI). The ranking has been topped by Germany, among the top-10 leading economies. South Korea is at the third position in the list.

• Apart from this, India’s real GDP growth rate is projected to be the highest in the year 2021 among the top-10 leading economies in the world, at 11.5%. It reflects India’s strong “economic resurgence” to the global economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Important Current Affairs 1st February 2021

National

Smriti Irani inaugurates 8th India International Silk Fair

• Textiles Minister Smriti Irani today inaugurated the 8th India International Silk Fair on Virtual Portal. The fair is considered to be India’s biggest silk fair, being held under one roof on Indian Silk Export Promotion Council’s virtual platform. The five days event is being held virtually due to COVID-19 pandemic.

•  Speaking on the occasion, Mrs Irani said that more than 200 overseas buyers have already registered and equal number of their representatives in India will be interacting with more than 100 renowned and big Indian companies manufacturing and trading silk and silk blended products. She called upon the exhibitors and overseas buyers to take part in this initiative to celebrate the beauty and vibrancy of Indian silk.

•  India has  long history of silk production and is the 2nd largest producer of Silk. India is the only country in the world which produces all the four major varieties of silk - Mulberry, Eri, Tassar, and Muga.

India’s First ‘Gender Park’ in Kerala’s Kozhikode

• The Kerala government is all set to launch Rs 300 crore three-tower ‘Gender Park’ in Kozhikode. The park will become functional on the occasion of the second edition of the International Conference on Gender Equality (ICGE-II). The park will be inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, in between February 11-13 that will also mark the inauguration of the second edition of ICGE-II.

• The gender park was established with the aim of creating relevant interventions so as to address a range of gender-based issues. It includes both off-campus and on-campus activities and other projects that work to empower the individuals and communities.

• The gender park was established by the government of Kerala in 2013. It is an initiative that works towards gender equality and empowerment in Kerala. The headquartered for the initiative is in the capital of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram.

• However, the main campus is at Silver Hills, Kozhikode. The campus has an area of 24-acre. The park has been set with its main focus on gender justice.

• The platform will provide an environment for policy analysis, research, capacity development, advocacy, economic and social initiative. The park will be operational under the Department of Social Justice. This space is first of its kind across the world.

Sports

BCCI cancels Ranji Trophy 2020-21 for first time

• The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided not to conduct the Ranji Trophy in 2020-21. This will be the first time in 87 years since its inception in 1934-35, that India’s premier first-class cricket national championship will not be held in 2020-21 domestic season.

• Instead on Ranji Trophy, BCCI has decided to conduct the Vijay Hazare Trophy 50-over tournament and Senior Women’s One Day tournament after the completion of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament.

Appointment & Resignation

Facebook appoints henry moniz as its first cco

• Henry Moniz, who has been the chief compliance officer and chief audit executive at media company ViacomCBS Inc., will join Facebook on Feb. 8 to lead the company's global compliance team, according to Facebook. He will be the first person to hold the compliance chief title at Facebook.

R S Sharma appointed as new CEO of Ayushman Bharat Scheme

• The National Health Authority (NHA) has appointed RS Sharma as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of country’s flagship public health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat, also called Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana. He would replace Indu Bhushan, who is serving as the Chief Executive of the Ayushman scheme since its inception in 2018.

• RS Sharma, a former chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), who would take charge of the NHA from February 1.

• Ayushman Bharat, a flagship scheme of Government of India, was launched as recommended by the National Health Policy 2017, to achieve the vision of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This initiative has been designed to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its underlining commitment, which is to “leave no one behind.”

• Ayushman Bharat is an attempt to move from sectoral and segmented approach of health service delivery to a comprehensive need-based health care service. This scheme aims to undertake path-breaking interventions to holistically address the healthcare system (covering prevention, promotion and ambulatory care) at the primary, secondary and tertiary level. Ayushman Bharat adopts a continuum of care approach.

BCCI Secretary Jay Shah takes over as President of ACC

• Jay Shah, the incumbent Secretary of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been appointed as the new President of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC). He is the youngest person ever to be appointed to the office. He replaces Nazmul Hussain, Chief of Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) who was the previous chief of the ACC.

• The ACC is Asia’s regional administrative body and it currently consists of 24 member associations. ACC is responsible for organizing the Asia Cup tournaments. The 2020 edition of the Asia Cup was postponed to June this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pakistan was to originally host the tournament but the tournament is now expected to be held in either Sri Lanka or Bangladesh.

Obituary

Nobel Prize Winner Paul Crutzen passes away

• The Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul J. Crutzen, has passed away. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995, jointly with Mario J. Molina and F.

• Sherwood Rowland, for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone. He was known for his work on the ozone layer and climate change and for popularizing the term ‘Anthropocene’ to describe a proposed new era when human actions have a drastic effect on the Earth.

Important Days

Indian Coast Guard to celebrate 45th Raising Day

• The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) will celebrate its 45th Raising Day today, February 1.

• According to an official release by the Ministry of Defence, the ICG has played a significant role in securing the Indian Coasts and enforcing regulations within the maritime zones of India.

• The ICG seized contraband worth Rs 1,500 crore and ten illegal foreign fishing boats with 80 miscreants in the Indian exclusive economic zone in 2020.

• A country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is an area extending from the coastline to 200 nautical miles in the sea, wherein it has exclusive rights to fish, drill and also conduct other economic activities.

World Leprosy Day 2021: 31 January

• World Leprosy Day is observed around the world on the last Sunday of January every year. This year World Leprosy Day held on 31 January. The day is celebrated to raise global awareness of this deadly ancient disease and call attention to the fact that it can be prevented, treated and cured.

• This year theme of World Leprosy Day 2021 is “Beat Leprosy, End Stigma and advocate for Mental Wellbeing ”.

• The day was initiated in 1954 by French philanthropist and writer, Raoul Follereau, as a tribute to the life of the Mahatma Gandhi who had compassion for people afflicted with leprosy.

Ranking

India ranks 10th in ‘Asia-Pacific Personalised Health Index’

• India ranked 10th out of 11 Asia Pacific countries in a newly-launched health index to measure the progress towards personalised healthcare. Singapore(1st), Taiwan (2nd), Japan (3rd) and Australia (4th) also performed well in overall readiness. These include Policy Context, Health Information, Personalised Technologies and Health Services.

• The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report ”Asia-Pacific Personalised Health Index” measures the readiness of 11 health systems across the region–Australia, China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and New Zealand–in adopting personalised healthcare, enabling the right care to be tailored to the right person at the right time.

• The ‘Personalised Health Index’ measures performance against 27 different indicators of personalised health across four categories called ”Vital Signs”.

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Important Current Affairs 22nd January 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Indo-French Exercise Desert Knight-21 begins

• Indian Air Force and French Air and Space Force are conducting a bilateral Air exercise, Ex Desert Knight-21 in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The exercise marks an important milestone in the series of engagements between the two Air forces. It is unique as it includes fielding of Rafale aircraft by both sides and is indicative of the growing interaction between the two premiers Air Forces.

• The French side will participate with Rafale, Airbus A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport, A-400M Tactical Transport aircraft and approximately 175 personnel. The Indian Air Force aircraft participating in the exercise will include Rafale, Mirage 2000, Sukhoi-30 MKI among other aircraft.

NATIONAL

Cabinet approves Rs 5,282-cr investment for 850 MW Ratle project on Chenab river

• The Union Cabinet has approved 850 megawatts (MW) Ratle hydropower project worth an Rs. 5281.94 crore on Chenab river in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir. The project is being implemented under the Centre’s plan to expedite strategically important hydropower projects in the union territory post its reorganization.

• The project will be developed by a new joint venture company between state-run National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) Ltd and Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation Ltd (JKSPDC), where NHPC will have a 51% stake in the JV firm, while the balance will be held by JKSPDC.

CM Thakur launches HP’s first online youth radio station

• Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has launched Himachal Pradesh’s first online youth radio station ”Radio Hills-Youngistan Ka Dil”. The Chief Minister appreciated the efforts of young entrepreneurs. The developer of the online radio Karan, and Radio Jockeys Palak, Rahul and Nidhi were also present on the occasion.

• The online radio would go a long way in promoting the culture and traditions of the state, besides providing an opportunity to the youth to exhibit their talents. The founders of the online radio, Deepika and Saurabh.

Gujarat to Rename Dragon Fruit as ‘Kamalam’

• The Gujarat state government has renamed dragon fruit as ‘Kamalam’. The move has kept the internet in splits and many criticized it using the hashtag #SanskariFruitSabzi. As per Gujarat Chief Minister, the dragon fruit has been renamed Kamalam because of the shape of the fruit.

• The state government has applied for the patent of the fruit named Kamalam. This was announced at the launch of the Chief Minister Horticulture Development Mission. The Horticulture Development Mission is a scheme to promote horticulture in the unproductive regions of the state as well.

Howrah-Kalka Mail Renamed as “Netaji Express”

• One of the oldest trains of Indian Railways, the Howrah-Kalka Mail has been renamed as the ‘Netaji Express’. Indian Railways have renamed the train just a few days before the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on January 23.

• Howrah-Kalka Mail was started in the 19th Century as one of the early commercial passenger train services in India.

• The Kalka mail has always been popular for connecting Howrah with Kalka and has enjoyed steady patronage.

• It is believed that Netaji took this train from Bihar’s Gomoh after escaping from his house in Kolkata in the year 1941.

OBITUARY

Malayalam actor Unnikrishnan Namboothiri passes away

• Veteran Malayalam actor, Unnikrishnan Namboothiri has passed away while contracting COVID-19. He made his acting debut in 1996 with Desadanam. However, he became a household name among the Malayalam film audience for his performance as a witty grandfather in Kalyanaraman (2002).

• Unnikrishnan is well known for movies like Kaikudunna Nilavu (1998), Kaliyattam (1997), Pammal K Sambandam (2002), Sadanandante Samayam (2003), Madhuranombarakattu (2000), Rappakal (2005), and Pokkiri Raja (2010).

Former Arunachal Governor Mata Prasad passes away

• Former Arunachal Governor Mata Prasad has passed away at the age of 95.

• He served as minister in the Congress government in Uttar Pradesh in 1988- 89 and appointed as Governor of Arunachal Pradesh in 1993.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

ACC appoints Sanjeev Kumar as new CMD of TCIL

• The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved the appointment of Sanjeev Kumar as the new Chairman & Managing Director (CMD) of Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL). According to an order from the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), Kumar has been appointed to the post for a period of five years from the date of assumption of the charge of the post, or till the age of superannuation, or until further orders, whichever is earlier. He is currently serving as Director (Technical) in Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL).

• Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL) is a Miniratna PSU under the administrative control of the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications. TCIL, a premier telecommunication consultancy and engineering company is making available its vast and varied telecom expertise to friendly developing countries.

Govt appoints Siddhartha Mohanty as managing director of LIC

• The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has appointed Siddhartha Mohanty as the managing director of India’s largest insurer Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) from February 1 onwards. He is currently CEO of LIC Housing Finance Limited. He will serve as the MD of LIC till his superannuation on June 30, 2023. He will be replacing TC Suseel Kumar, who is set to retire on January 31, 2021.

• LIC has four MDs and one chairman. Currently, MR Kumar is serving as the chairman of the corporation and TC Suseel Kumar, Vipin Anand, Mukesh Kumar Gupta, and Raj Kumar are serving as the MDs of LIC.

JSW Sports signs cricketer Rishabh Pant to manage commercial interests

• Rishabh Pant was signed by JSW Sports, the sports arm of JSW Group. The multi-year association between the two parties will see JSW Sports manage all commercial interests and marketing rights of the 23-year-old cricketer, who most recently played a starring role in India’s magnificent Test series win in Australia. As part of the association, JSW Sports will manage the athlete’s image positioning and all his commercial engagements, including brand endorsements and appearances, social media monetisation, and business deals.

• Ever since its inception in 2012, JSW Sports has worked towards maximising India’s sporting potential by working with promising Indian talents across Olympic sports, football, and kabaddi; including Olympic medalist Sakshi Malik and wrestling star Bajrang Punia.

Sundaram Finance names Rajiv Lochan as MD

• The board of Sundaram Finance has named Rajiv Lochan (director Strategy) as managing director with effect from April 1. Sundaram Finance Ltd has made top-level changes as the current managing director T.T. Srinivasaraghavan will be retiring on March 31, 2020.

• While the current deputy managing director Harsha Viji will assume the office of executive vice-chairman, and take responsibility for the overall strategy and direction of Sundaram Finance Ltd., and other group companies in financial services.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

Axis Bank launches Aura Credit Card with health, wellness benefits

• Axis Bank has unveiled a credit ‘AURA’ exclusively loaded with several health and wellness benefits for its users at an affordable price. Axis Bank has partnered with Poshvine to offer benefits and specialists such as Decathlon, Practo, Fitternity, IndushealthPlus, 1MG etc., to offer a complete and unique health & wellness solution to the cardholders.

• Cardholders will get a discount on annual medical checkup through IndushealthPlus.

• It offers up to 4 free online video consultations for a month, with round the clock access to doctors on all 21 specialities. This is offered by Procto.

• It also offers 4 free online interactive fitness sessions for a month by Fitternity.

• Through this card, the users can have access to 16 recorded training sessions for one month and can choose from a wide range of sessions such as yoga and cross-functional training programs, etc.

Airtel Payments Bank launches ‘Airtel Safe Pay’

• To protect Airtel customers from the growing incidents of online payment frauds, Airtel Payments Bank has launched ‘Airtel Safe Pay’, a safe way to pay digitally. With ‘Airtel Safe Pay’, Airtel customers making UPI or net banking-based payments through Airtel Payments Bank, no longer have to worry about money flowing out of their accounts without their explicit consent.

• An India-First innovation, ‘Airtel Safe Pay’ leverages Airtel’s ‘telco exclusive’ strength of network intelligence to provide an additional layer of payment validation, compared to the industry norm of two-factor authentication.

• This offers the highest level of protection from potential frauds such as phishing, stolen credentials or passwords, and even phone cloning that catches customers unaware.

• Using ‘Airtel Safe Pay’, Airtel Payments Bank customers can make secure digital payments across millions of merchants, online retailers and utilities, and even send money.

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Important Current Affairs 21st January 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Infosys receives Google Cloud Partner Status

• Infosys has recently announced that it has been accredited with the Google Cloud Partner Specialization in the data and analytics space. Infosys is among the top global system integrators which have been accredited with this specialization.

• Infosys has received this recognition as the company has successfully demonstrating end-to-end capabilities on Google Cloud including warehousing on the cloud and data ingestion.

• Infosys has showcased robust methodology, strong industry expertise, technical proficiency, success in specialized data and analytics solutions, and service areas.

• These data and analytics offerings are a part of Infosys Cobalt.

• Along with AI capabilities, these data and analytics offerings help in optimizing costs paving the way for AI and cloud-native digital transformation for enterprises, migrating workloads to Google Cloud, and modernize data landscapes.

• Infosys Cobalt is a set of services, platforms, and solutions for enterprises for enhancing and accelerating their cloud journey. The Infosys Cobalt provides more than 200 industry cloud solution blueprints and 14,000 cloud assets.

Joe Biden takes oath as 46th US President

• Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States. He swore the oath of office moments after Kamala Harris, who became America’s first woman vice president, turning the page on Donald Trump’s tumultuous four years.  At 78, Biden is the oldest president in US history and only the second Roman Catholic president.

• Biden, who was vice president under Barack Obama and first ran for president in 1987, plans to kick off his tenure with a flurry of 17 orders. Biden will immediately rejoin the Paris climate accord and stop the US exit from the World Health Organization and set new paths on immigration, the environment, Covid-19 and the economy.

• Biden, who is the oldest president in American history, took the oath by placing his left hand on his 127-year-old family Bible, which was held by his wife, Jill Biden. He used the same Bible during his swearing-in as vice president and seven times as senator from Delaware.

• Lady Gaga, in a poofy dress that was Valentine red, sang the national anthem and Tom Hanks prepared for a televised evening appearance with the new president.

• Jennifer Lopez sang a pop rendition of “This Land is Your Land,” often considered the unofficial US national anthem, ending it by exclaiming the words of the pledge of allegiance — a nation that promises “liberty and justice for all” in Spanish.

Netherlands PM Mark Rutte and his entire cabinet quits

• The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte and his entire Cabinet has resigned recently over the childcare subsidies scandal, in which thousands of families were wrongly accused of child welfare fraud. However, the Rutte government will stay on in a caretaker role until parliamentary elections in March 2021.

• The resignation brings to an end a decade in office for Rutte, although his party is expected to win the election, putting him first in line to begin talks to form the next government. If he succeeds in forming a new coalition, Rutte would most likely again become prime minister.

NATIONAL

15th India Digital Summit 2021 begins

• The India Digital Summit, the flagship event of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) is one of the biggest conferences for the digital industry. Honourable Union Minister for Communications, Electronics & IT and Law & Justice, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is the chief guest, will deliver the inaugural address at the Summit.

• The summit, in its 15th year, will bring thought leadership on various digital initiatives that will cover Policies, Business, Investment, Advertising, Digital Commerce, Start-ups Ecosystem, Emerging Tech, and other Digital Trends.

• The theme for this year’s summit, which is being held virtually is ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat – Start of New Decade’ in line with the government’s ‘Make for the World’ Initiatives.

• The staggering increase in the total number of internet users in rural India recently presents us with the unique opportunity to establish India as a global powerhouse of Digital Growth.

Bhawana Kanth to become 1st woman fighter pilot at R-Day parade

• Flight lieutenant Bhawana Kanth will become the 1st woman fighter pilot to take part in the Republic Day parade. She will be a part of the Indian Air Force’s tableau in the 2021 Republic Day Parade that will showcase mock-ups of the light combat helicopter, light combat aircraft, and the Sukhoi-30 fighter plane.

• At present, Bhawana is posted in Rajasthan and flies the MiG-21 Bison fighter plane.

• Bhawana is also one of the first women fighter pilots to be inducted into the Indian Air Force in the year 2016.

• She was inducted into IAF in 2016 along with Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi.

• Since then 10 women have been commissioned as fighter pilots in IAF.

• Induction of Bhawana and other two women fighters was an experimental scheme of induction of women in IAF’s combat stream introduced in the year 2015.

NITI Aayog Releases India Innovation Index 2.0

• NITI Aayog released the second edition of the India Innovation Index on 20 January 2021, along with the Institute for Competitiveness. India Innovation Index 2.0 or 2nd edition has released by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar. The index demonstrates the government’s continued commitment towards transforming the country into an innovation-driven economy. The report examines the innovation capabilities and performance of the states and union territories.

The innovation index ranking is based on five enabler parameters:

• Human Capital

• Investment

• Knowledge Workers

• ‘Business Environment

• ‘Safety and Legal Environment

Two performance parameters:

• Knowledge Output

• Knowledge Diffusion

• In the India Innovation Index-2020, the States and Union Territories have been divided into the 17 Major States, 9 City-States and Union Territories, and 10 North-East and Hill States.

In the 2020 ranking:

• Karnataka retained its first position in the Major States category. Maharashtra moved one position higher and stood at 2nd spot while Tamil Nadu slid to 3rd position.

• In the North East and Hill States category, Himachal Pradesh stands at first position followed by Uttarakhand and Manipur.

• Delhi stands at the first position while Chandigarh retained its second spot in the Union Territories and small States category.

Kiren Rijiju gets additional charge of Ayush Ministry

• Ministry for Sports and Youth Affairs, Kiren Rijiju has been given the additional charge of the Ayush Ministry. He will hold the fort till Shripad Yesso Naik recovers from an accident. The President has directed that this arrangement may continue till Shri Shripad Yesso Naik resumes his work related to Ministry of AYUSH.”

• The President, as advised by the Prime Minister, has directed that during the hospitalisation and treatment of Shri Shripad Yesso Naik, Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH); and Minister of State in Ministry of Defence, following a road accident, his portfolio related to Ministry of AYUSH, be temporarily assigned to Shri Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State (Independent Charge) in addition to his existing portfolios.

Maharashtra renames Gorewada international zoo after Bal Thackeray

• The Maharashtra government has renamed Gorewada International Zoo in Nagpur as ‘Balasaheb Thackeray Gorewada International Zoological Park. The zoological park will come up on nearly 2,000 hectares forest land.

• Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will inaugurate the Indian safari at the zoo on January 26. Three special 40-seat capacity vehicles and an online ticket booking facility will be made available to the people as soon after the Indian safari is inaugurated.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

India, Singapore sign pact on submarine rescue support

• The 5th edition of the Defence Ministers’ Dialogue (DMD) between India and Singapore was successfully held on 20 January 2021 through a video conference, in an effort to deepen military cooperation.

• During the meeting, the ‘Implementing Agreement on Submarine Rescue Support and Cooperation’ was signed between the two Navies. The agreement was signed between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Singaporean counterpart Dr Ng Eng Hen.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Goa CM releases book 'Manohar Parrikar - Off the Record'

• Goa Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant has released a book ‘Manohar Parrikar- Off the Record’ at a function organized at Institute Menezes Braganza hall in the city. The book has been written by senior journalist Waman Subha Prabhu.

• The book ‘Manohar Parrikar- Off the Record’ is a collection of memories of Mr Prabhu who happened to be with late Parrikar during the journey of his life. In the book, the author has endeavoured to narrate the multi-faceted personality of late Manohar Parrikar. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, while speaking, said Late Manohar Parrikar was a great visionary who had dreamt to serve Goa.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

ICICI Bank launches ‘InstaFX’ mobile app

• ICICI Bank has launched a new mobile application ‘InstaFX’ for authorised money changers to help customers of any bank get ‘ICICI Bank Forex Prepaid Card’ swiftly. ICICI is the bank is the first in the country to offer such facility to money changers. A money changer is a person or organization whose business is the exchange of coins or currency of one country, for that of another.

• The ‘InstaFX’ app will enable the authorised money changers, who are partners of the Bank, to complete the KYC verification and validation of customers digitally and on a real-time basis.

• The ‘ICICI Bank Forex Prepaid Card’ gets activated swiftly within a few hours, as against the industry practice of up to two-days, thus it will significantly improve customer convenience, even if they are not customers of ICICI bank.

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Important Current Affairs 4th January 2021

NATIONAL

India becomes co-chair of Asia Protected Areas Partnership (APAP)

• India has been chosen as the co-chair of the IUCN-supported Asia Protected Areas Partnership (APAP) for a period of three years till November 2023. India will replace South Korea, which held the post for 3 years until November 2020.  As a co-chair, India would be responsible to assist other Asian countries in managing their protected areas. The APAP is chaired by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Asia and co-chaired by an APAP nation member on a rotational basis.

• The APAP was formally launched in 2014, at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Australia.

• It is a regional platform to assist governments and different stakeholders to collaborate for more practical administration of protected areas (PA) within the area.

• Currently, there are 21 members from 17 international locations.

DCGI gives final approval for Covid-19 vaccines of SII, Bharat Biotech

• The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has formally announced the final approval for Oxford-AstraZeneca “Covishield” and Bharat Biotech “Covaxin” vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) for emergency use. CDSCO (Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation) accepts the subject expert committee reform rations on Serum and Bharat Biotech Covid vaccines.

• The subject expert committee (SEC) under CDSCO had recommended Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) as Covishield, for emergency use and Covaxin for restricted use.

• Covaxin is the indigenous vaccine being developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

SPORTS

Leon Mendonca becomes India’s 67th Grandmaster

• Goa’s 14-year-old Leon Mendonca has become India’s 67th chess Grandmaster by winning the third and final norm at a tournament in Italy. Mendonca, who achieved the feat at 14 years, 9 months and 17 days, is the second GM from the coastal State. Chennai player G. Akash, had in July, become the country’s 66th Grandmaster. He became the 29th Youngest GM in the world. The 1st GM from Goa is Ivana Maria Furtado, she achieved it in 2011.

• The player achieved his first GM norm at the Rigo Chess GM Round Robin, while the second came at the event in Budapest in November and the final one at the Vergani Cup in Italy.

• Sergey Karjakin of Russia holds the record for the World’s Youngest ever GM having qualified for the title at the age of 12 years and 7 months (achieved the title in 2003).

• GM is a title awarded by FIDE (International Chess Federation). It is the highest title a chess player can obtain apart from World Champion.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

BEL and Indian Navy inks pact for initial supply of Laser Dazzlers

• The Indian Navy has signed a contract with the Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), to procure Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation Dazzlers (Laser Dazzlers). Initially, agreement has been signed for 20 Laser Dazlers. The Laser dazzler technology has been developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and would be manufactured by BEL, Pune plant. It is the first time that this unique product is indigenously designed and developed for the Armed Forces.

• They are used as a non-lethal method for warning and stopping suspicious vehicles/boats/aircraft/UAVs/pirates etc. from approaching secured areas during both day and night.

• It is capable of dazzle and thereby suppress the person’s/optical sensor’s action with disability glare in case of non-compliance to orders.

• While this technology can disorient/ confuse/blind a person temporarily, it can also dazzle and distract aircraft/UAVs.

OBITUARY

Hollywood director Joan Micklin Silver dies at 85

• Joan Micklin Silver, who forged a path for female directors and independent filmmakers with movies including Hester Street and Crossing Delancey, has died. She was 85.

• Silver died from vascular dementia Thursday at her home in New York,. She used a combination of talent, fortitude and luck to create 1975’s Hester Street, her first feature, released when she was 40 years old.

Uliyin Osai director Ilavenil passes away in Chennai

• Tamil director and writer Ilavenil passed away yesterday in Chennai. He was in his 70s. He suffered a heart attack.

• The director is known for his film Uliyin Osai, which was written by Karunanidhi, and produced by S. P. Murugesan. The film released on 4th July, 2008 and it featured Vineeth and Keerthi Chawla in the lead roles.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Braille Day: 4 January

• World Braille Day is observed globally on 4th January since 2019. The day is celebrated to raise awareness of the importance of Braille as a means of communication in the full realization of the human rights for blind and partially sighted people. The day is marked remembering the birth anniversary of Louis Braille, the inventor of Braille – for people with visual disabilities. Louis Braille was born on 4th January 1809 in the town of Coupvray in northern France.

• Braille is a tactile representation of alphabetic and numerical symbols using six dots to represent each letter and number, and even musical, mathematical and scientific symbols. Braille (named after its inventor in 19th century France, Louis Braille) is used by blind and partially sighted people to read the same books and periodicals as those printed in a visual font.

• Braille is essential in the context of education, freedom of expression and opinion, as well as social inclusion, as reflected in article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

RANKING

Mukesh Ambani ranked 12th in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index 2021

• India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, the chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) dropped down to 12th spot in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index 2021 (as on 2nd January 2021). The net worth of Ambani dropped from 90 billion USD (around Rs. 6.62 lakh crore) (in early 2020) to 76.7 billion USD (around Rs. 5.6 lakh crore). The drop in the net worth of Mukesh Ambani was due to the correction in the shares of RIL which has fallen to Rs.1995.50 on 30th December 2020, which is 16% from its all-time high of Rs 2369.35.

Top 3 in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index:

Rank

Personality

Net worth

1

Jeff Bezos

190 Billion USD

2

Elon R Musk

170 Billion USD

3

Bill Gates

132 Billion USD

Asia’s Richest person:

• Zhong Shanshan, referred to as “Lone Wolf”, has replaced Ambani as Asia’s richest person, he is one of the fastest in the history to achieve the feat.

• Zhong Shanshan is Chinese billionaire whose net worth is 78.2 billion USD, which is attributed to the listing of Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprises Co and Nongu Spring Co, a bottled water firm.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Amit Shah releases ‘National Police K-9 Journal’

• Union home minister Amit Shah on Saturday released the inaugural issue of “National Police K-9 Journal.”

• The publication of the Police K9 Journal is another step in creating an ecosystem in the country to train and learn on augmenting this vital resource. The journal comprises different sections in Hindi and English, the Home Ministry said in a release.

• “This is a unique initiative which will further enrich the subjects related to Police Service Canine (K-9) (PSK) teams in the country,” Amit Shah said while inaugurating the book.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

RBI introduces the RBI-Digital Payments Index

• Reserve Bank of India has launched a Digital Payments Index (DPI) to capture the extent of digitization of digital/electronic payments across the country. This RBI-Digital Payments Index (DPI) has 5 broad parameters that will be used for the measurement of deepening and penetration of digital payments.

These parameters and their weightage are as under:

1. Payment Enablers (weight 25%),

2. Payment Infrastructure – Demand-side factors (10%),

3. Payment Infrastructure – Supply-side factors (15%),

4. Payment Performance (45%) and

5. Consumer Centricity (5%).

• The base period for RBI-DPI is March 2018. This means that the DPI score for March 2018 is set at 100. RBI has calculated the DPI for March 2019 and March 2020 at 153.47 and 207.84 respectively, indicating appreciable growth. RBI-DPI shall be published on a semi-annual basis from March 2021 onwards with a lag of 4 months.

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Important Current Affairs 1st January 2021

INTERNATIONAL

Amazon acquires podcast network Wondery

• Amazon recently announced that it’s acquiring Wondery, one of the last major independent podcast networks that having podcasts including “Dirty John,” “Dr. Death,” “Business Wars,” and “The Shrink Next Door.”

• The acquisition is a neat one because it sets Amazon up to better compete against Spotify, making a series of acquisitions, including podcast network Gimlet. With this acquisition, Wondery will become part of Amazon Music, which launched podcast support in September this year. “Amazon Music launched podcasts in September 2020, and together with Wondery, we hope to accelerate the growth and evolution of podcasts by bringing creators, hosts, and immersive experiences to even more listeners across the globe, just as we do with music.

NATIONAL

Cabinet nod to transport hub at Greater Noida

• The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the construction of a multi-modal logistics and transport hub in Uttar Pradesh’s Greater Noida at an estimated cost of Rs3,883.80 crore.

• “The multi-modal logistics hub project will be developed as a world-class facility that will provide efficient storage/transitioning of goods to/from the Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC) and offer a one-stop destination to freight companies and customers,” an official statement said. It will provide standard container handling activities and value-added services to reduce logistics costs with improved efficiency of operations, the statement added.

Railways launch upgraded IRCTC website

• Union railways minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday launched the revamped version of the e-ticketing website of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

• The new website claims to have complete user personalization linked to the user login, such as the booking of meals, retiring rooms and hotels too have been integrated and can be directly booked along with the tickets.

Government Extends Deadline For FASTag Till February 15, 2021

• The Ministry of Road Transport and Highway (MoRTH) has extended the deadline for the collection of toll charges on the National Highways using FASTag. The deadline was originally until January 1, 2021 which has now been extended to February 15, 2021.

• Under the original deadline, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) was slated to completely switch over to FASTag payment at toll plazas from January 1 onwards, which meant FASTags needed to be retrofitted on all four-wheelers and commercial vehicles.

India’s 1st Testbed TiHAN launched at IIT Hyderabad

• Union Minister of Education, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has virtually laid the foundation stone of “TiHAN-IIT Hyderabad”, India’s first Testbed for Autonomous Navigation Systems (Terrestrial and Aerial) at IIT Hyderabad. The Technology Innovation Hub on Autonomous Navigation Systems (TiHAN) for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Remotely Operated Vehicles at IIT Hyderabad.

• The Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, has sanctioned Rs. 135 crores to IIT Hyderabad under the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS) to set up a Technology Innovation Hub on Autonomous Navigation and Data Acquisition Systems.

• Two acres of land has already been allocated in the IIT Hyderabad campus and the facilities are planned in phases.

• All Smart poles are enabled with communication providing technology with some Poles designed with sprinklers to simulate rain scenarios. The developed testbed will be available for use by all the industries, R&D labs, academia conducting research and development in the broad areas of autonomous navigation.

India’s first pollinator park opens in Uttarakhand

• The country’s first pollinator park with over 40 species of butterflies, honeybees, birds and insects has been developed over four acres at Haldwani, Uttarakhand. The objective behind developing the park is to conserve various pollinator species, create awareness among people in general about the importance of conservation of these species and to promote further research on various aspects of pollination, including a threat to habitat and impact of pollution on pollinators.

• There are at present 40 species of pollinators at the park, including common jezebel, common emigrant, red pierrot, common sailor, plain tiger, the common leopard, the common moron, common grass yellow, common blue bottle, common four-ring, peacock pansy, the painted lady, pioneer white, yellow-orange tip and lime butterfly.

• Pollinators provide pollination services to over 180,000 different plant species. Without them, existing populations of plants would decline, even if soil, air, nutrients, and other life-sustaining elements were available.

• The importance of pollinators was recognised long back in the west and to conserve pollinators, parks, gardens, strips and pathways were created on a large scale in countries like the USA.

SPORTS

Lewis Hamilton knighted in UK honours list

• Lewis Hamilton has been knighted in Britain's traditional New Year Honours list after equalling Michael Schumacher's record of seven Formula One world titles.

• The list recognises outstanding achievements in various fields including showbusiness, sport and politics, as well as the contributions of a larger number of everyday citizens.

• There are many awards this year for those seeking solutions to the problems posed by coronavirus as the pandemic drags on.

• Hamilton, 35, surpassed Schumacher's record number of career race wins during a stellar season in 2020 that was shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Navy, DRDO conduct maiden trial of air dropped container ‘SAHAYAK-NG’

• Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) along with the Indian Navy conducted the successful maiden test trial of ‘SAHAYAK-NG’ India’s first indigenously designed and developed Air Dropped Container from IL 38SD aircraft (Indian Navy) off the coast of Goa. The trial was conducted by the Indian Navy to enhance its operational logistics capabilities and provide critical engineering stores to ships that are deployed more than 2000 kilometres from the coast.

• SAHAYAK-NG is an advanced version of SAHAYAK Mk I.

• The newly developed GPS aided air dropped container is having the capability to carry a payload that weighs up to 50 kilograms and can be dropped from heavy aircraft.

• Two DRDO laboratories, Naval Science and Technological Laboratory, Visakhapatnam and Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment, Agra were involved in the development of the SAHAYAK-NG container along with the industry partner M/s Avantel for GPS integration.

OBITUARY

Veteran broadcaster Indira Joseph Venniyoor passes away

• Veteran broadcaster, Indira Joseph Venniyoor passed away. She was a renowned broadcaster, All India Radio veteran & first English news announcer of Travancore Radio when its English service began in 1949.

• She was the wife of well-known literary scholar & art critic the late E.M.J. Venniyoor.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

Indian Army Chief MM Naravane receives Guard of Honour at ROK Army Headquarters

• Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane has received a Guard of Honour at Republic of Korea Army Headquarters at Gyeryong.

• He called on General Nam Yeong shin, Chief of Staff of Korean Army and discussed issues of bilateral defence cooperation. The Army chief visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) near the border with North Korea. General Naravane visited the 30th Armoured Brigade and DMZ. During his three day visit, he met senior military and civilian leadership of the Republic of Korea and discussed avenues for enhancing defence relations between the two countries.

Mother Teresa Memorial Awards for Social Justice 2020

• Harmony Foundation hosted the Mother Teresa Memorial Awards for Social Justice. The Awards in its 16th year is the only award endorsed by Sister Prema, the Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, the organization started by Mother Teresa. The theme for this year’s awards was, ‘Celebrating Compassion In Times Of C-19 ‘.

• Dr Anthony Fauci (USA) is the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, USA. He and his task force were among the first ones to realize the seriousness of this pandemic.

• Father Fabio Stevenazzi (Milan, Italy), decided to return to medical practice in order to help those infected with C-19 has thrust him to be the modern-day example of St Charles Borromeo who in 1576 during the Great Plague that hit the city of Milan and cut the population by half, stayed behind to nurse the sick and renovate hospitals.

• Dr Pradeep Kumar (Chennai) took it upon himself to give a befitting burial to his colleague with the help of two ward boys, at a cemetery in the city in the middle of the night.

• IPS Sanjay Pandey (DG Home Guards, Maharashtra) went beyond the call of duty as a police officer to open the first relief camp in the Mumbai city suburbs for migrant workers whose livelihood were disrupted by the lockdown to contain the pandemic.

• Vikas Khanna (Manhattan, USA) heart still moves to serve the lonely and underprivileged here in India.

• KK Shailaja (Minister of Health, Kerala), her extraordinary efforts and pro-activeness in dealing with the pandemic by following experts and scientific advice helped countless Keralites survive the terrors of this pandemic, serving as an example for governments of other states countries to follow.

Pt Satish Vyas conferred Tansen Samman at the World Music Festival

• In Madhya Pradesh, 96th Tansen Music Festival began in Gwalior with strict C-19 guidelines in place. In the inaugural ceremony renowned santoor player, Pandit Satish Vyas was conferred upon the prestigious Tansen Samman.

• Bhopal-based institution Abhinav Kala Parishad was honoured with Raja Mansingh Tomar award. The festival pays tribute to Tansen, one of 9 gems in Akbar’s court.

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Important Current Affairs 30th December 2020

NATIONAL NEWS

Mumbai airport introduces express C-19 testing facility, gives results in 13 minutes

• The city's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) on Tuesday said it has introduced a new 24X7 C-19 testing facility, which gives test results in flat 13 minutes at a cost of ₹ 4,500.

• Since its launch on December 15, CSMIA has witnessed an average of 30-35 such tests per day, CSMIA said in a release.

• A total of 400 express tests have been carried out at the airport till December 28, which include passengers who had connecting flights to destinations outside Maharashtra.

Harsh Vardhan launches India’s 1st indigenous pneumonia vaccine ‘Pneumosil’

• The Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan launched India’s first indigenously developed vaccine against pneumonia. The Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) named ‘Pneumosil’ has been developed by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and PATH, an international, nonprofit global health organization based in Seattle.

• The vaccine will provide protection against 10 variants of pneumococcus bacteria that causes pneumonia, meningitis, ear, and blood infections in children. Pneumococcal disease is the largest contributor to under-five mortality rate worldwide.

INCOIS launches “Digital Ocean” app for information sharing

• The Union Minister of Earth Sciences, Science & Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan virtually inaugurated the web-based application “Digital Ocean”. It has been developed by Hyderabad-based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) an autonomous organization under M/o Earth sciences. Digital Ocean is a first of its kind digital platform for Ocean Data Management.

• Digital Ocean is a step towards Prime Minister’s vision of Digital India, to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.

• Digital Ocean will serve as a one-stop-solution for all the data related to the ocean.

• It will help to share this knowledge about the ocean with a wide range of users including research institutions, operational agencies, strategic users, the academic community, maritime industry and policymakers, as well as general public and the common man that too free of cost.

PM Modi flagged off India’s first driverless train on Delhi Metro

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has flagged off the country’s first-ever fully-automated driverless train service on the Magenta Line of the Delhi Metro. Apart from this, PM also launched fully operational National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) on the Airport Express Line of Delhi Metro, to connect DMRC with the NCMC service.

• NCMC, also known as ‘One Nation One Card’, is an inter-operable transport card that allows the holders all in one service to pay for their travel, toll taxes, parking charges, retail shopping and even withdraw money.

SPORTS

BWF bans Russian badminton player Nikita Khakimov for 5 years

• The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has imposed a 5-year ban on Russian shuttler Nikita Khakimov for charges of “betting, wagering and irregular match results. Khakimov was part of the Russian men’s team that won the bronze medal at the 2020 European Team Championships.

• The 32-year-old Khakimov was found to breach BWF’s integrity regulations, including approaching a player and offering money to manipulate a match, betting on badminton games and deliberately destroying evidence of a corruption offence to conceal from the BWF.

Anshu Malik wins silver at Individual Wrestling World Cup in Serbia

• Indian wrestler, Anshu Malik has become the first wrestler of the country to finish on the podium position at the Individual Wrestling World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia.

• The 19-year-old won a silver medal in the women’s 57kg category to claim first international medal of the tournament for the country. She lost to Moldova’s Anastasia Nichita 5-1 in the final.

OBITUARY

French fashion designer Pierre Cardin passes away

• French fashion designer Pierre Cardin, hailed for his visionary creations but also for bringing stylish clothes to the masses, died Tuesday aged 98.

• Cardin, who was born to a low-income family in northern Italy but became a France-based fashion superstar, died in a hospital in Neuilly in the west of Paris.

• Born into poverty in 1922 near Venice in northern Italy, his family emigrated to France when he was a small child.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS

Kerala’s Arya Rajendran becomes India’s youngest mayor from Thiruvananthapuram

• The 21-year-old college student, Arya Rajendran has been elected the new mayor of Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, of Kerala. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader, Arya is the youngest person in India to occupy the post of mayor anywhere in the country.

• Arya won 54 votes out of 99 votes cast in the civic body polls in Kerala. She is also the state president of Balasangam, the children’s wing of the CPI(M). Arya is a second-year student of Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Mathematics at the All Saints College.

SUMMITS AND MOU’S

Tata Sons to buy 32.67% stake in AirAsia India for $37.66 million

• In a move that is being pegged as the first step in consolidation of Tata Group’s aviation portfolio, Tata Sons will purchase 32.67 per cent stake in AirAsia India from Malaysian AirAsia Group Bhd, taking its holding in the joint-venture airline up to 83.67 per cent. In a filing to the Malaysian stock exchanges, the AirAsia Group said that the deal, which is worth $37.66 million, will see its share in the Indian budget airline go down to 16.33 per cent.

• As of date, AirAsia held a 49 per cent stake in AirAsia India, while Tata Sons held 51 per cent. In addition to this, Tata Sons also owns 51 per cent stake in full-service airline Vistara, the rest of which it is owned by Singapore Airlines.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

AU Small Finance, ICICI Pru Life tie up to offer life insurance solutions

• AU Small Finance Bank has announced a strategic partnership with ICICI Prudential Life Insurance to offer life insurance solutions. The tie-up aims to deliver “paperless, secure, and hassle-free life insurance”.

• Through the corporate agency arrangement, over 18 lakh customers of AU Bank across over 700 banking touchpoints in 13 states and 2 Union territories, will have easy access to the entire suite of customer-centric protection and long-term savings products of ICICI Prudential Life. AU Bank even claimed that these products will enable customers to provide financial security to themselves and their families and help them achieve their financial goals.

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Important Current Affairs 28th December 2020

INTERNATIONAL

Myanmar commissions submarine gifted by India

• Myanmar on Saturday inducted into its navy a submarine it received from India, which of late stepped up its maritime security cooperation with its neighbours as well as other nations in the Indo-Pacific region amid growing belligerence of China.

• The INS Sindhuvir, a Kilo-class submarine of the Indian Navy, has been renamed as the UMS Minye Theinkhathu. It was commissioned by the Myanmar Navy on the occasion of its 73rd anniversary. It is the first submarine to be acquired by the Myanmar Navy.

• India handed over the INS Sindhuvir to Myanmar three years after China provided two submarines to Bangladesh in 2017.

• The INS Sindhuvir was in service of the Indian Navy since 1988. It was refitted by Hindustan Shipyard before being handed over to the Myanmar Navy earlier this year. The Indian Navy also made arrangements for the personnel of the Myanmar Navy to operate the submarine.

NATIONAL

PM Narendra Modi to flag off 100th Kisan Rail via video conference

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off the 100th "Kisan Rail" from Maharashtra's Sangola to Shalimar in West Bengal via video conferencing on Monday.

• "Kisan Rail has been a game changer in ensuring fast transportation of agriculture produce across the nation. It provides a seamless supply chain of perishable produce," the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.

• The multi-commodity train service will carry vegetables such as cauliflower, capsicum, cabbage, drumstick, chilli and onion as well as fruits like grape, orange, pomegranate, banana and custard apple, it said.

• There will be no bar on the size of consignment and Loading and unloading of perishable commodities will be permitted at all stoppages en route, the PMO said.

Jammu gets its first woman bus driver

• Pooja Devi of Kathua district has become the first woman passenger bus driver in Jammu and Kashmir. Mother of three children, Pooja Devi ferried passengers on Jammu-Kathua route for the first time on Thursday.

History of Sikh Gurus to be included in school syllabus: Yogi Adityanath

• Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, at a Kirtan held in his residence on Sunday, announced that the history of Sikh gurus will now be included in the school curriculum in the state to educate students about the origins of the religion.

• CM Yogi made this announcement at a Gurbani Kirtan held at his residence on the occasion of 'Sahibzada Diwas', which marks the martyrdom of four 'sahibzada' (sons) of 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh and his mother Mata Gujri.

PM Modi launched Ayushman Bharat scheme for Jammu & Kashmir

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) SEHAT scheme for the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, via video conferencing. Talking about the Jammu and Kashmir Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY SEHAT scheme, PM Modi said that getting free treatment up to 5 lakh rupees under this scheme would improve the ease of living. About 6 lakh families of the state are getting the benefit of Ayushman Bharat Scheme. All 21 lakh families will now get the same benefits after the SEHAT scheme, PM Modi said.

• The prime minister further said that another benefit of this scheme would be that treatment is not limited to government and private hospitals in Jammu and Kashmir only. Rather, treatment can be availed from thousands of hospitals empanelled under this scheme in the country.

Kovind Inaugurates, Lays Foundation Stone Of Developmental Projects In Diu

• Daman and Diu/Dadra and Nagar Haveli, President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated and laid foundation stones for several projects on Saturday, according to the President's Secretariat.

• These included the inauguration of -- first academic session of IIIT Vadodara-International Campus Diu; and Kamleshwar School, Ghoghla; laying of the foundation stone for -- the construction of a school at Saudwadi; improvement of 1.3 kilometers heritage walk-way on Diu City Wall; conservation and facade restoration of heritage precincts (Zampa and market precinct); up-gradation of fruits and vegetable market at Fort Road; and development of integrated municipal solid waste management system for entire urban and rural areas of Diu.

SPORTS

International Cricket Council (ICC) announced its Test, ODI and T20I teams of the decade

• The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced its Test, ODI and T20I teams of the decade on Sunday and cricket fans in India were thrilled. Legendary MS Dhoni, who retired on August 15, has been named as the captain of ODI and T20I teams. whereas Virat Kohli has been declared the captain of the Test team which includes the likes of former stalwart skippers Kumar Sangakkara and Alastair Cook.

• For India, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has been named in the Test XI of the decade, men's ODI team of the decade included Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli apart from the side's captain Dhoni. Men's T20I team of the decade has four Indians - Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Jasprit Bumrah.

• However, on the flip side no cricketer from Pakistan got a place in any of the XI's. There were representations from Australia, New Zealand, England, South Africa, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan in at least one of the three teams.

OBITUARY

Former WWE Wrestler Luke Harper Passes Away

• Professional Wrestler Jon Huber, popularly known as Luke Harper in the WWE, and Brodie Lee in the AEW has died aged 41 of non-C-19 related lung issue, an AEW official statement on social media said on Sunday.

• The professional wrestler from Rochester, New York started his career back in 2003, made his name in the independent wrestling scene, wrestling for promotions like Dragon Gate and Combat Zone Wrestling. In 2012 he won his first WWE contract, where he made a big splash in NXT and then in the WWE main roster as Luke Harper part of the ultra-popular Wyatt Family.

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Important Current Affairs 26th December 2020

INTERNATIONAL

DFC to invest USD 54 million in India to support critical infrastructure projects

• The United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has announced to invest $54 million in India to support the development of critical infrastructure projects in the country in the wake of the C-19 pandemic. The DFC will invest this $54 million in equity for the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) in India.

• NIIF will use this capital to support economic growth and address critical development challenges in the country. This financing is part of NIIF’s final round of fund-raising for the fund.

• DFC is the development finance institution of the United States federal government, primarily responsible for providing and facilitating the financing of private development projects in lower- and middle-income countries.

NATIONAL

Niti Aayog launches Cloud Storage Service ‘DigiBoxx’

• NITI Aayog has launched indigenously developed India’s first Digital Asset Management and Storage platform, called ‘DigiBoxx’. The initiative will give a boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, as India now has its own cloud storage platform.

• This cloud storage and file sharing service will be available for desktop, iOS, and Android users, including both regular users as well as businesses. Digiboxx offers free 20GB cloud storage space, and 100GB space per month at just Rs 30.

SPORTS

India’s largest hockey stadium to be set up in Odisha

• Odisha Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik has announced that India’s biggest hockey stadium is being set up in Rourkela city of Odisha. The stadium will be constructed in the Biju Patnaik University of Technology campus, Rourkela.

• It will have a sitting capacity of 20,000 people, spread over 15 acres of land.

• The stadium will be developed as a benchmark for other hockey stadiums around the world.

• It must be noted that Odisha will be hosting FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup for a second consecutive time, in 2034, at two venues, Bhubaneswar and Rourkela.

IMPORTANT DAYS

Good Governance Day: 25 December

• In India, Good Governance Day (Sushasan Divas) is observed annually on 25th December. In this day nation celebrates the birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna and former-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Good Governance Day was established in 2014 to honour Prime Minister Vajpayee by fostering awareness among the Indian people of accountability in government. In keeping with this principle, the Good Governance Day has been declared to be a working day for the government.

• Atal Bihari Vajpayee served as the Prime Minister of India for three times. His first term was for only 13 days in 1996. He served his second term for a period of thirteen months from March 1998 to April 1999 and then a full term from 1999 to 2004. His first entry into parliament was in 1962 through the Rajya Sabha. He was elected to the Lok Sabha seven times. In 2015, Mr Vajpayee was conferred the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award.

BANKING AND ECONOMY

RBI cancels the Licence of the Subhadra Local Area Bank, Maharashtra

• The Reserve Bank of India has cancelled the banking licence issued to Subhadra Local Area Bank Ltd., Kolhapur, Maharashtra to carry on banking business in India. The Reserve Bank cancelled the licence of the Subhadra Local Area Bank Ltd as it had breached the minimum net worth requirement for two quarters in the financial year 2019-20.

• The affairs of the Subhadra Local Area Bank Ltd. were conducted in a manner detrimental to the interests of its present and future depositors. After this, there are only two Local Area Banks operational in India, i,e.– Coastal Local Area Bank Ltd and Krishna Bhima Samruddhi LAB Ltd.

HDFC Bank ranks top among 100 BFSI Firms in India

• HDFC Bank is the top-ranked company among the 100 Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) companies in the country, as per the BFSI Movers and Shakers 2020 report by Wizikey. HDFC Bank has topped because of its customer service, monetary management, and innovative offerings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

• ICICI Bank and State Bank of India (SBI) are ranked second and third, respectively. Other top 10 banks in 2020 Wizikey’s BFSI Movers and Shakers report are Yes Bank, PNB, HSBC Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Bank of Baroda, Deutsche Bank, and IDBI.

• Wallet and UPI segment: Google Pay.

• Neo Banks segment: YONO.

• Payments bank category: Airtel Payments Bank.

Ind-Ra revises India’s GDP contraction to 7.8% for FY21

• India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) has revised India’s GDP estimate for the current financial year 2020-21 (FY21) to -7.8 per cent from -11.8 per cent estimated earlier.

• This lower contraction rate is mainly due to the easing of C-19 curbs and better-than-expected recovery in the second quarter. Ind-Ra has also estimated the GDP to grow by 9.6% in 2021-22 (FY22).

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